Dynamic American City, The (Part I)
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- Publication date
- ca. 1956
- Public Domain
There could be no better film than this to show how old, character-filled neighborhoods in cities across the nation were wantonly destroyed during the "new is better" 1950s. The term used was "URBAN RENEWAL". Cities across the United States are shown, in old, established residential
and business districts of great charm, and new, "urban renewal"-inflicted areas of equally great ugliness; the camera keeps cutting from some beautiful old Victorian structure to some drab, ugly 50s utilitarian structure which served as it's inferior replacement. Some good shots of 50s cars on urban streets; an especially good one contrasts 50s automobiles with a turn of the century horse-drawn bakery wagon of Boston ("Albert Duplain - French Bakers") in a wistful juxtaposition of eras. Rare footage of interurban streetcars / trolleys rolling through semi-rural areas; charming Victorian looking railroad station for "Ant Hill". Freeways. Traffic. Dams.
Suburban sprawl: sign on undeveloped tract reads "Coming Soon: FOOD FAIR
Supermarket"; then, another sign for W.T. Grant dime store. New construction; suburban
corporate headquarters are shown amid greenery. New shopping centers, the concrete barely dry. Good CUs of Victorian architectural detail; then, of course, old buildings being demolished for 50s steel and glass structures. Wrecking balls destroying old structures. Excellent shots of 1950s parking garages. Hotels, motels.
¥ 11:42:00- 11:42:09
Long shot of densely packed apartment buildings and some skyscrapers in Boston from a busy highway outside the city.
¥ 11:42:10- 11:42:18
Overview of densely packed area in San Francisco - looks like the Sunset District.
¥ 11:42:31- 11:42:44
Great pan of identical red brick row houses lined up on a city street (Baltimore or Philadelphia-?). They are nicely set against the sky and look as though they go on forever.
Nice shot of fancy Pacific Heights block from the top of a steep hill looking down at a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
¥ 11:43:46- 11:43:55
Wealthy East Coast neighborhoodÑa horse drawn carriage moves along a busy city road lined with fancy buildings (homes-?).
¥ 11:44:20- 11:44:40
Pan up an extremely old, fancy 24-story apartment building in a wealthy city neighborhood (Boston, New York-?). After the camera pans up there's a cut to the very top of the building set against the bright blue sky.
¥ 11:44:43- 11:45:13
Nice pan up a wealthy city homeÑas the camera pans we see how short this house is in comparison to the tall buildings on either side. This creates an air and light shaftÑinterseting image of the odd space between buildings.
¥ 11:45:14- 11:45:28
An old, tall, stone home (it looks like a church) stands above industrial buildings creating an interesting contrast.
¥ 11:45:57- 11:46:16
Great shot of plain, square apartment buildings (converted stables) along a New York City streetÑabove these, we see an excellent view of skyscrapers. Nice contrast between the dark apartment buildings and the shiny, silver skyscrapers.
¥ 11:46:32- 11:46:43
A commuter train pulls into (or away from) a city stationÑwe see buildings nearby, but the station seems to lie on the outskirts of town.
¥ 11:46:44- 11:46:56
Interesting shot of train moving through semi-industrial outskirts of a city. There are green hills and a white house peculiarly perched atop an inclination.
¥ 11:47:01- 11:47:17
Nice image of trolley cars moving along tracks in what looks like a rural setting.
¥ 11:47:36- 11:47:51
Good shot of cars zooming towards a city (San Francisco) from complicated highway loopsÑnice partial view of the skyline.
¥ 11:48:07- 11:48:19
Traffic inches along what looks like an L.A. freewayÑlow, brown hills in the distance and some development along the highway.
¥ 11:48:31- 11:48:40
Very beautiful image of a power plant built into brown, rocky mountainsideÑwe view electrical towers and the top of the stone power plant.
¥ 11:48:54- 11:49:23
Great image of housing development. Starts with view of what looks to be a rural area, then pans over for us to see acres of identical, insubstantial, small houses (lower income suburbs-?).
¥ 11:49:26- 11:49:49
Good montage of new shopping developments in suburban areas. Starts with pan of long brown department store to a pan of a shopping area being built to a fancier looking strip with a deaprtment store and more.
¥ 11:50:09- 11:50:18
Very good shot of a "W.T. Grant & Co." billboard in the middle of an open field.
¥ 11:50:18- 11:50:26
Great image of a stone hotel (it is mostly a parking lot) on the side of the highway in the desert. A billboard of a man waving people over is next to it.
¥ 11:51:10- 11:51:25
Two shots of shopping centers. The first is fancy with a landscaped circle where cars drive around and pick up shoppers, and in the second we only view the large parking area.
¥ 11:53:20- 11:53:44
A demolition hammer plunges against a stone building again and again until knocks a piece off. Intereseting contrast between crisp, blue sky and dust and concrete.
¥ 11:53:46- 11:54:00
Good shot of demolition of an old mansion.
¥ 11:54:16- 11:54:36
Nice slow pan of a triple-decker, roofless parking lot.
¥ 11:54:36- 11:54:43
A car enters an underground parking lot.
¥ 11:54:51- 11:55:01
Concentric, downtown San Francisco parking garage which says "Self Parking."
¥ 11:55:25- 11:56:38
Nice shot of the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego. There is a cut to the gaudy, neon El Cortez Motel sign across the street.
¥ 11:55:58- 11:56:14
Slow pan of large, concrete department store (Meyer and Frank Store) in Salem, OregonÑthe store occupies an entire block.
¥ 11:56:21- 11:56:49
Great pan of residential area in Kansa City ("Quality Hill") near downtownÑa middle class area with small homes, row houses, and apartment buildings. The skyline stands behind them.
¥ 11:52:02- 11:58:16
Great pan across tall buildings behind burned out row houses.
¥ 11:58:54- 11:59:06
Two shots of shiny, steel skyscrapers from extremely low angles.
¥ 11:59:29- 11:59:56
Good pan of a New York City streetÑpans up and across old apartment buildings next to newer apartment and office buildings. The Empire State Building is in the background.
¥ 12:00:23- 12:00:35
Great shot in St. Louis of a sign stating "Plaza Redevelopment Project" in the foregroundÑbehind it are two tall buildings, one new and one old.
¥ 12:00:38- 12:00:48
Nice shot of an empty lot with a city behind it.
¥ 12:02:11- 12:02:41
Good shot of Main Street in a small city (Columbia, Indiana) which is undergoing some modern renovation (there's a new bank)
¥ 12:03:06- 12:03:31
Nice pan up Wrights's bizarre Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
¥ 12:04:28- 12:04:46
Great pan of an entire strip of buildings being demolished in Columbus, Ohio. Sturdy buildings stand in the background.
URBAN RENEWAL. DESTRUCTION OF OLD URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS;
- 2002-07-16 00:00:00
- Closed captioning
- United States
- ca. 1956
- Run time
Even setting aside my somewhat florid aesthetic tastes, I would say that my idea of what qualifies as historically significant does not stray far from the standards of the US's National Historic Register. I've yet to review their qualifications in detail, but would guess from having had the pleasure of living, wandering about, and working in places emblazoned with their seal that 'code' or above 'code' materials and artisan detailing figure in pretty frequently. 'Historically significant' is somewhat self-explanatory, isn't it? How about a Carnegie Library, for example? (I speak about the libraries only, not the man's ideals or business dealings).During the period in which this film was made, a number of such buildings were ripped down unneccessarily, there's no contesting that. Such short-sighted practises seemed to begin or at least pick up in the '50s and continue through to the late 1990s.
Car-parks/parking-lots are less efficient than garages, and public transportation, when 'well managed' (I put that in inverted commas because that's another discussion entirely), seems rather superiour to a seething mass of single commuters bashing into one another and clogging up massive swaths of freeway. The evidence revealing the bane of urban sprawl towers miles high. I mean, oxygen and greenery are rather nice, aren't they?
Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I happen to love those lions, angels, and better still early art-deco stylised thisses-and-thats. There are even some marble, glass, and steel banks built in the '50s that catch my eye.
Regarding those contemporarily engineered protections against seismic, weather, and human-wrought disasters, my guess is that they are appreciated by most of us; surely we can keep in mind that old buildings are often shored up with them, too.
I just don't like this film. Bad ideas, scary footage.
Subject: What's with you people?
Subject: Exciting? destruction of historical artifacts is exciting?
One building- looked like a church, was so well built a wrecker's ball barely made a dent in the brickwork after several hits. It's amazing how we in this country built solid stone and brick buildings that could last 500 years with care like the do in Europe, and we tear them down after 20 or 40 years for "progress"
The narrator went on and on about how "exciting" the new changes in the cities are, and the camera pans on to the latest new stale concrete crackerbox-covered-with-shiney-glass highrise.
Thank GOODNESS people like these developers and real estate people shown in the film didn't really gear up ridiing our cities of these "obsolete old dumps" cause by now we would all be living in identical oured concrete crackerboxes covered with shiney glass and stainless steel.
Subject: Let's Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Subject: Tear down old buildings! Make New Parking Lots!
IN COLLECTIONSPrelinger Archives
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